EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The spirits around the Giants practice facility have been pretty high after the Week 1 win over the Tennessee Titans and now New York turns its attention to the Carolina Panthers. The win has ignited plenty of excitement as well for a fanbase that has been starving for something to get excited over for a number of years now.
The victory was far from perfect and there are a number of things for the Giants to clean up in the couple of days of preparation they have before Carolina arrives in New Jersey. The offensive line had its ups and downs in the first week of the season and they’ll need to find that consistency in Week 2 and the Giants will need to contain Christian McCaffrey similarly to the way they stopped Derick Henry last week.
Here are three keys for the Giants’ Week 2 matchup with the Panthers.
Replicating the defensive effort against Christian McCaffrey and Baker Mayfield
The Giants know that McCaffrey will present another challenge on the ground that they’ll have to stifle like they did Derick Henry. McCaffrey had a quiet game in Week 1 against the Browns and the Panthers have been careful with how much they deployed him during the game. The back surely will want to make a bit more noise and after he had an explosive few moments on Sunday in the loss to the Browns.
“They’re definitely different types of backs,” defensive lineman Leonard Williams said. “McCaffrey is really good in space. He’s a very shifty back. He’s also s a screen draw type of running back. He’s really effective in the passing game as well. It’s definitely a different focus on a guy like McCaffrey.”
The Giants’ D will also need to force quarterback Baker Mayfield into making the same mistakes he made last week, while preventing him from having the explosive second half that led to 17 points for Carolina.
Consistency for the offensive line
This will be a point of focus as the season goes on after how much the offensive line struggled last year. The revamped O-Line had its ups and downs in the first game as the Titans managed to get to Daniel Jones on five separate occasions, but only one of them came in the second half of the game. They also came up big when it came to opening up the run game for Saquon Barkley, who had himself a monster afternoon in Music City.
“Each one of those plays is different and I certainly have a part in those as well,” Jones said about the offensive line’s role in the five sacks. “I’ve got to do a good job of understanding where the pressure is coming from and getting the ball out of my hands. Those guys played a great game, ran the ball really well and we’ll keep working. That’s all it is.”
Next man up mentality
The Giants are still dealing with several players being out and they added one more to that list on Wednesday when Aaron Robinson was ruled out for Sunday’s game after it was announced he had his appendix removed. The Giants will essentially hold a tryout over the days leading up to the game and decide on Friday who will take his place, but it will be an added challenge to containing the Panthers without Robinson on the field and someone having to jump in.
Nick McCloud would have been considered as the next player up, but he may not be an option on Sunday and he did not practice on Wednesday due to a hamstring injury. That could mean rookie Cor’Dale Flott could get the call.
“I stay in that mindset by learning from the older guys like Adoree’ (Jackson) Darnay (Holmes),” Flott said about remaining ready to play. “How they practice and how they approach every day. Me approaching the same way as they do whether I’m a starter or not that’s just going to keep me prepared for when a time like this comes.”